‘This show is a historical event': celebrating ‘unseen' Asian American artists

Asia's Tech News Daily

A groundbreaking new show in New York showcases the work of three under-recognized Asian American sculptors who worked and taught in the city during the 1960s and 70s.

On view at Chelsea’s Tina Kim Gallery, The Unseen Professors highlights modern sculptures by Leo Amino (1911-1989), Minoru Niizuma (1930-1998) and John Pai (born 1937), three pioneering Asian-born artists who immigrated to America, eventually had work in major shows and collections, and influenced younger artists through their teaching but remain little known today.

Related: Forgotten women and Indigenous painters: the best podcasts to teach you about art

“This kind of exhibition is so overdue,” says Tina Kim, a gallerist who approached poet and critic John Yau a few years ago to learn more about Asian American artists in the 80s and 90s. Yau, who curated the show, suggested going back even further, “to the first generation of artists who came”, Kim said. “They struggled so much but made a strong impact in the New York art scene. It is time now that their work receives the proper attention and we investigate their contributions.”

“This show is a historical event,” agrees Genji Amino, grandchild of the sculptor Leo Amino. “I’m not sure when the last time, if ever, three Asian American artists of my grandfather’s generation or the following were shown together in New York.” In July 2020 Genji Amino curated of a show of Leo Amino’s work at David Zwirner. Prior to that, they say, “I doubt I could point to solo shows in New York for earlier generations of Asian American artists apart from the only two sculptors of Asian descent to achieve a measure of lasting national and international recognition: Ruth Asawa and Isamu Noguchi. And this is despite the incredible amount of activity of Asian American artists around the second world war.”

Histories of Asian American art on the west coast, while still woefully neglected in a national context, have been much better recorded thanks to the efforts of a larger and more longstanding Asian American community and history of activism, exhibition and scholarship. On the east coast, the record is far less complete. “It has been quite a revelation that a Japanese American artist of my grandfather’s generation was living in Greenwich Village alongside the abstract expressionists and teaching at Black Mountain College, exhibiting nearly every year at the Whitney in the 40s and 50s, and developing the new medium of plastics two decades before it was recognized in the work of a younger generation of artists in Los Angeles,” Genji Amino says.

This marks the first major exhibition of Minoru Niizuma’s work in nearly 25 years, although “he helped shape the genre of stone sculpture in a way that very few have,” says Arata Niizuma, his son. “In my mind, my father created a breadth of work in stone sculpture that is rivaled only by the likes of Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi.”

The three artists belonged to different generations and worked in different mediums, utilizing different processes, and indeed the exhibition acknowledges that they have little in common aside from the region they were born in and the fact that they were never affiliated with a mainstream movement or style. “There’s many art worlds in New York, and sometimes they overlap, but sometimes they’re completely separate from each other,” Yau says, adding that even the now famous Yayoi Kusama and Noguchi likewise stood apart from the mainstream art world.

Genji Amino notes that diversity in backgrounds and practices “reflect both the multiplicity and the inherent contradictions implied by the concept ‘Asian American’”. “I think Leo would have been proud to show his work alongside other artists who found themselves to be outsiders to the white avant gardes of their respective generations, both in terms of the adversity they faced as Asians in America and in terms of the alternative set of concerns that drove their unorthodox aesthetic practices,” they add.

Artist John Pai recalls that when he first heard about the exhibition, “I felt as if I was about to be reunited with a long lost family,” he told the Guardian. “Although I had never met any of the other artists, I was all too familiar with the forces that shaped them and the dreams of a new world that challenged their imagination.” Pai was compelled by how each artist met this challenge in different ways. “Imagine what kind of form could emerge from a jackhammer, a test tube and an oxy-acetylene torch? Calmly coherent sculptures, it turns out.”

Pai remembers fondly the fertile milieu from the era covered in the show. “Today, race, politics and power have churned into a formidable brew that reasonable people find hard to believe how paralyzed we are by it. This show harkens back to a time when people from all walks of life strove to integrate all the arts towards a dynamic and creative society. The depth and breadth of creative energy was awe-inspiring. One can only wonder, will it ever happen again?”

Despite their achievements, many Asian American artists from this period risk becoming lost to history: perhaps an artist had a show, but it was probably not reviewed (due partly to the dearth of critics of color at the time) and if there was catalog, it may be out of print or difficult to find. Putting the exhibition together was challenging given the lack of documentation, Kim notes. “These histories will be forgotten unless we document them now,” she says. “So much research needs to happen. My show only opens the door of so many conversations we should be having with institutions and scholars.”

Genji Amino aspires for the show to go beyond mere visibility and assimilating these undersung artists into the art historical canon. Instead, they hope it’s the first step toward new histories and ways of seeing, ushering in more transformative engagement with communities and issues outside the art world, especially at a time when many art institutions and the public are reconsidering what and whom art history is for. “The art histories that would claim these artists of color have more to gain from the experiments and provocations represented by their lives in art than the artists themselves have to gain from any gesture of inclusion,” they say. “We want to allow the power of this artwork to radically redefine the parameters of art history, not simply to have a few new figures ushered into it.”

  • The Unseen Professors is showing at the Tina Kim Gallery in New York until 29 January

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Boy killed in Brampton fire called 911 to report that he was trapped

BRAMPTON, Ont. — The mayor of Brampton, Ont., says one of the three boys killed in a house fire Thursday called 911 to report the blaze, but firefighters couldn’t get ... Read more »

The Travel Diaper Backpack That Shoppers Say Is the 'Absolute Best' Is Finally Back in Stock

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Beis Travel Traveling with a baby is tough — there’s no other way to put it. But traveling with a baby and ... Read more »

Michigan judge who berated 72-year-old cancer patient for not maintaining his yard apologizes: ‘I’m very embarrassed’

The Michigan judge who berated an elderly cancer patient for not maintaining his yard has apologized for acting “intemperately,” after a video of the incident sparked outrage and prompted more ... Read more »

We're obsessed with Ree Drummond's new line of colorful bed and bath essentials

Shop TODAY is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we ... Read more »

Man pleads guilty to ammunition-related charge linked to Nova Scotia mass killer

HALIFAX — One of three people accused of supplying ammunition to the gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia in 2020 has pleaded guilty to a single charge. © ... Read more »

The French 75 Is The Fanciest Cocktail—Period

© Justin Sullivan The French 75 is a classic cocktail made with champagne, gin, lemon and simple syrup. Super drinkable and undoubtedly fancy! The French 75 is among the fanciest ... Read more »

Kayak Will Give You $10,000 to Take a Trip Anywhere in the World — Here's How to Enter

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Getty Images Kayak wants remote workers to know that anything is possible — even working from a tropical island resort, a mountain-top chalet, a ... Read more »

Democrats need their own Mitch McConnell and other commentary

Mitch McConnell AP Conservative: Dems Need Their Own McConnell “How could Chuck Schumer have been so reckless as to set up yet another public failure for his party” when he ... Read more »

Biden, Kishida to talk on security issues

© The Manila Times This handout picture taken and released by the Japan’s Cabinet Public Relations Office via Jiji Press shows Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) meeting with US ... Read more »

My legs are my biggest weapon – I'll rule Dancing on Ice with this special move, says Kimberly Wyatt

BEZ may have his maracas and Brendan Cole the ballroom experience – but none of the Dancing On Ice celeb hopefuls has a secret weapon quite like Kimberly Wyatt’s. As ... Read more »

Siblings sleep in hammocks hanging 70 feet in the air over cliff drop

THIS brother and sister had a real cliffhanger sleeping in hammocks 70ft up. Aussies Ariana, 19, and Sam Simons, 23, hung them over the drop and crawled in along the ... Read more »

Sir Kenneth Branagh's childhood pals explain how early years shaped new Belfast film

Turned out in his Sunday best while waiting for his turn on a makeshift swing, this blond-haired Belfast boy could scarcely have dreamed of the remarkable future ahead of him. ... Read more »

Watch: USMNT forward Sargent scores first two Premier League goals for Norwich City

Josh Sargent’s first Premier League goal took a while to arrive, but it proved to be worth the wait. The U.S. international forward scored with an improvised flicked volley finish ... Read more »

Hobart's Salamanca Markets celebrate 50 years

© Provided by ABC Health Salamanca Market has long been a popular spot for locals and tourists. (Supplied: City of Hobart) Emma Hope fondly remembers being a young girl at ... Read more »

Amanda Holden unveils her stunning transformation in a glamorous video

She’s been busy filming for the new series of Britain’s Got Talent.   And Amanda Holden, 50, made getting ready look easy as she showcased her glamorous transformation in preparation for ... Read more »

Rare twin baby elephants born in Kenya

An elephant named Bora gave birth to twins at the Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya. Jane Wynyard/Save the Elephants via AP NAIROBI, Jan 20 – Suckled by their mother ... Read more »

Vienna for under £100: Look beyond the Austrian capital's grand palaces and museums and you'll find it's teeming with hip bars and cosy coffee houses

Vienna's compact size makes it an ideal destination for a frosty weekend break, according to Susie Coen She recommends staying at the city's 'cosy' Magdas Hotel or in one of the 116 quirky rooms at Hotel DanielSpend your days grazing at Vienna’s largest food market or drifting along Old Danube lake on an electric boat  Read more »

Britain at its best: The small Cornish town of Marazion tried (and failed) to change its status, but still has all the heart of a city

Marazion received chartered status in 1257 from Henry III, making it one of the oldest towns in EnglandRob Crossan meets the mayor, Derek Laity, and admires the town's narrow alleyways and jumble of cottages He stops for a 'golden' pasty at Philps, the bakers, before driving to the former Carn Galver mine near Zennor  Read more »

Boris Johnson's brand ‘permanently damaged' by No 10 party row, Tory peer says

© Getty Lord Hayward said he believed the chance of Mr Johnson securing a second majority for the party was ‘unlikely’ – Getty Boris Johnson’s brand has been “permanently damaged” ... Read more »

Divers May Have Solved Four-Year Cold Case In Texas, After Dredging A River Police Overlooked

© Screenshot: NBC Screenshot: NBC A group of divers dredged up a car from the Brazos River in Texas, which could finally solve a missing persons case that was opened ... Read more »

Brawl in Honduras Congress ahead of new president's inauguration

© Orlando SIERRA Libre Party lawmaker Rassel Tome (L) tries to attack deputy Jorge Calix (2-R) in Tegucigalpa on January 21, 2022 Lawmakers exchanged blows in the Honduran Congress Friday ... Read more »

'Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go... to Qatar! Controversially, the Arab country will host the 2022 World Cup in November - but is it on the ball as a year-round destination?

Thomas W Hodgkinson stays in the five-star Mondrian in Doha - a 'hub of skyscrapers on the edge of a desert'A 'properly amazing' swim in the Inland Sea and a trip to the National Museum of Qatar occupy his time  'The clash of religious conservatism and rampant capitalism can be wearing,' he says of Qatar  Read more »

Family of 4, Including Infant, Found Frozen Near Canada Border — Suspect Arrested for Human Smuggling

© Provided by People Getty Images Getty The frozen bodies of four people, including an infant, were found near the Canadian border on Wednesday, and a Florida man has been ... Read more »

Devin Gordon: 'Overwhelming' response as £16,000 raised to help family of 13-year-old who died in Bathgate with funeral costs

© Devin Gordon, 13, tragically died this week and countless people have paid tribute to the young foot… Nicola Boyd, the mother of a boy who played in the same ... Read more »

'Gentle' France lags behind eager EU neighbours in race to vaccinate kids as Omicron rages

© Michel Euler, AP Photo As France’s bid to vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds against Covid-19 hits the one-month mark, progress remains ploddingly slow, light years behind many EU neighbours. As ... Read more »

Brian Laundrie claimed responsibility for Gabby Petito's death in his notebook: FBI

Brian Laundrie took responsibility for the death of his fiancée, 22-year-old Gabby Petito, in a written statement investigators found in his notebook, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. © ... Read more »

Civil servants ordered back to office after Covid restrictions lifted in England

Civil servants have been ordered to return to the office, with government departments told to rapidly get back to “full occupancy” after the lifting of plan B Covid-19 restrictions in ... Read more »

Sinema faces Democratic Party backlash after blocking voting rights legislation

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is facing new heat from those who helped elect her after she and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia this week were the only two Democrats ... Read more »

Center for Covid Control: Federal inspectors investigating 'numerous complaints' about labs and testing sites

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is investigating “numerous complaints” about labs and testing sites associated with the Center for Covid Control, the agency confirmed to CNN Friday. © ... Read more »

USMNT's Josh Sargent Scores First Two Premier League Goals, Including Absurd Scorpion Kick

© Provided by Sports Illustrated Josh Sargent’s first Premier League goal for Norwich City was absolutely sensational, and his second wasn’t too shabby either. View the original article to see ... Read more »

69 percent oppose overturning Roe v. Wade: CNN poll

© Getty Images Abortion supporters at Supreme Court A majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established a person’s constitutional right to abortion. ... Read more »

House panel obtains Trump records after Supreme Court ruling

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – The White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. The House committee investigating the ... Read more »

US charges Texas man with threatening Georgia election officials

The United States Department of Justice has charged a Texas man with posting an online threat against election officials in Georgia, a US state that former President Donald Trump has ... Read more »

Gunfire Erupts at Ritzy Playa del Carmen Resort, One Dead

© Provided by The Daily Beast Quintana Roo Defense Department A shooting at a ritzy resort near Cancun left one Canadian dead and two others injured Friday, Mexican authorities said. ... Read more »

Wildlife YouTuber discovers new species of tarantula

JoCho Sippawat, known for his videos about Thailand's wildlife, discovered the first known tarantula to live exclusively inside bamboo stalks. Read more »

Joe Schoen takes over Giants with a Bill Parcells seal of approval

If you are a true football guy, chances are that Bill Parcells will like you. New Giants GM Joe Schoen is a football guy. “I like Joe,” Parcells told the ... Read more »

German museum identifies objects likely stolen from Africa

© Provided by DW Researchers Karin Guggeis (l) and Albert Gouaffo have led the investigation into objects in the museum’s collection The Five Continents Museum in Munich on Friday announced ... Read more »

Interview| A Balasubramanian, MD & CEO, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC – ‘FPIs to find India relatively more attractive versus other EMs in 2022'

© Provided by The Financial Express ‘We are witnessing that the worst impact of pandemic on economy is behind, and steady improvement in growth,’ Balasubramanian says Inflows by Foreign Portfolio ... Read more »

Mariska Hargitay: Law & Order's Olivia 'In Love' With Elliot for Years

Be still our shipper hearts! After a lengthy will-they-or-won’t they relationship on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler are endgame, show star Mariska Hargitay has confirmed. ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic